Friday, July 12, 2013

Rockies Road Trip Day Five: "Best Day Yet!"

That's a pretty bold statement considering I'd already crossed off "seeing a bear" on my bucket list and making it to my beloved Yellowstone, but truly, Wednesday was unanimously the best day of the trip for us.

It began in downtown Fort Collins.  We were able to take our time a bit as our next activity didn't begin until 1:30 - so we made our way down to the college district of Fort Collins.  It was amazing - I loved the charm, the history, the classiness of it so much.  Gosh, if only Eugene could pull something like this off.  Instead, our downtown is a place largely full of foreclosed small businesses, vagrants, and disgruntled "young people".  I think small attempts are being made, it's perhaps better now than it's ever been, but oh-so-far-to-go to ever reach this level.

Our first stop was to put our name on the waiting list at "Snooze: An AM Eatery".  I had discovered this place online when determining the stops we'd make on our trip and this was the biggest "must stop" of our eating adventures.  Just one look at the breakfast offerings, and I was literally salivating... 

As we had about 20 minutes before they anticipated our table to be ready (and they had our cell number to text us), we used the time to walk the blocks surrounding "Snooze". 

Next door was this candy store....the kids were so excited that it would be opened by the time we finished breakfast...

Alleys like this...inviting, not scary.

And, a piano, nestled in to the mural..just waiting for folks to play on it?  How cool is that?!

This mural caught our eye as we were trying to find "Snooze" and one of the reasons we were so excited to get some time to walk around (and take pictures).  I'm pretty sure John's modified version of this pic will end up as a metal print to be displayed above the antique Coca-Cola machine (that is currently being restored) that was given to us from John's mom that sits as a centerpiece in our bonus room.

I would probably become more of a "foodie" if there were outdoor dining locations like this with such atmosphere and charm....

We made it back to Snooze just as we were to be seated...

Orange Julius-like drink to start off....

Fifties music was played inside - I wish I would have peaked at the out-back patio seating.  We were enamored with every part of this place.

John's meal....we both had a hard time deciding between two offerings - and were surprised and delighted when the fun and friendly waitress offered to give "half-portions" of both of our choices.  Um, YEAH!!!

I struggled between ordering the Blueberry Danish Pancakes and the OMG! French Toast (can you see why I was so insistent to hit this place when I found it online?!)  After trying them both, I'd definitely opt again for just the Blueberry Danish - the other was delicious, but too rich for me. 

After completely gorging ourselves (we ended up forgetting about lunch that day...I wonder why?!) - we hit the candy store next door.

You know that saying, "Like a kid in a candy store"?  - That was totally our kids - they were overwhelmed at the possibilities and what to choose with the budget we gave them....

While this one-pound bar was impressive, she just told me that she also found a 3 pound bar.  I'm glad she didn't pick this - what a mess that would have been melting in the heat in the back of the car!!!

Brayden didn't end up picking this either-

But, they did get stuff from this little contraption - a kind of "Fill-It-Yourself" Giant Pixie Stick Machine.

We thought we were giving ourselves a big enough buffer, but upon chatting with the candy store owner, we started getting nervous as to whether we'd be slowed down by reported traffic construction/delays in route to "Rusty Spurr Ranch" where we supposed to be at 1:30. 

Yes, we were slowed down.  And, we were getting highly anxious - knowing folks weren't just going to wait on us at the ranch.  (And that was an activity we would be miserable to miss out on...).   But, once we got past this point, we started moving a lot faster.  Kind of crazy to look at that sign and realize you are driving at an elevation over 11,000 ft.

This song (and a couple of silly others) will probably end up being the "theme song" of our trip as we loved it when it came on (particularly Mikayla).  After seeing him perform up close at the Carrie Underwood concert, Hunter Hayes has been a favorite...then seeing him do this song as a duet with Danielle Bradbery (the winner of this season's "The Voice") - I kind of melt when I think of him and the all-around great guy he seems to be....  It came on at a great time, when we had already contacted the ranch, they assured us we'd get there on time, and we were just moments away from saddling up...

Another reason to rejoice - the temperature.  Ahhhh, low 70's...maybe even high 60's.  It was so refreshing - and made the long sleeve Western shirt I'd planned on wearing and jeans we were required to wear actually seem appropriate.

You'll see better pics of the horses as you scroll through - but, I'll name them from this PicFrame Collage.  Mikayla rode "Two Bits".  My horse is named "Delbert".  Brayden's horse was "Itsey Bitsey" (which was funny because he wanted a horse with a name alluding to it being fat....he got the opposite....and yes, as we had hoped and begged for, Brayden's horse had an inattentive focus issue just like his rider - we were so ready for Brayden to get a taste of his own medicine at this point in the trip!).  All of these horses were males.  John's horse's name is "Gypsy" - and she's a she - who the guide believed had a crush on my horse, "Delbert".  That's very fitting.... =) 

It felt so good to be in a saddle again and bonding with a horse.  And, then to look over and see my whole family on horseback....oh yes....pretty much on Cloud Nine (we were certainly high enough to be at cloud level!) 

I expected to see a lot of this scenery - which was definitely beautiful. 

But these groves of Aspen Trees - did not expect that - I was grinning ear to ear with the beauty of it all.

It was just our family and then another family of three that rode in a group - and it was said again and again that we should try to avoid all riding nose to butt - but instead spread out over the land - just moving in the same general direction as the guide.

Fortunately, I was blessed to take the position behind "Maddy" our guide.   It meant I got all of the extra insights - as well as made another new friend.  She was fun, relaxed, delightful, and willing to get real in a hurry about topics of conversation (like our own issues with migraines) that led to immediate bonding.  By the end of the ride, she proclaimed our family to "SERIOUSLY" be one of her favorites....and insisted on getting our "411" so we could be Facebook friends.  All the more adding to why Wednesday was one of our favorite days...

This little cabin is actually lived in by one of the guides.  No electricity or running water, but hey, "Location, location, location"....

Mikayla struggled a bit to begin with in getting her horse to move along.  As we've both been taught/coached by mom (and feel it's only right) to not kick a horse to get it to move, it's hard when that's what the horse expects as far as a command.  And, Mikayla, being so little, doesn't have much force.  So, Maddy taught her to swish the reins back and forth and that seemed to help a ton. 

Like I said before, Brayden's horse would follow directions for about 90 seconds, and then stray off and do his own thing.  Wow, that sounds eerily familiar.... =)


Delbert and I got along great - especially the longer I was on him.  However, I did have to keep him from snacking (a "no-no" rule set by the wranglers)....No wonder we got along so well... ;)

And John really, really liked his little Gypsy girl....

Mikayla spotted her when we first arrived and was hoping she'd have her (pintos are her favorite)....but John got her instead.

Perfect place to take group pictures!!

Maddy's horse, "Honey", kept getting in the way of Maddy's efforts to take our pic...

We insisted we get a picture with Maddy and Honey in it too...

I think you can guess I'm in my "happy place" here.

The ONLY problem with our two hour adventure ride was actually a positive in terms of adding to the fun - but it was those clouds.  We got rained on a little bit, nothing that soaked us, but Maddy was pretty certain it was headed our way.  The rain wasn't the problem - the lightening strikes were.  Lightening is something Mikayla is enchanted by, but rather scared of - particularly when she believes she's vulnerable to it.   I was super proud of her at not freaking out when it became clear that Maddy actually encouraged us to trot to keep up as needed as it was important we return to the safety of the ranch....

Move faster?  That made us all very happy....

Those clouds are pretty ominous, huh?

The colors, while somewhat muted, were so different and dazzling to me...

Right about at the two hour mark, we were back - which was far too soon for me.  Next time we come, I'll want to do at least a half day ride - if not one of the cattle drives they do... And, yes, I do plan on returning!!!

There was a certain sense of relief I felt after the horse ride (despite being sad it was over) in that the "rush" was over as far as meeting deadlines for the rest of the trip.  Nothing more was specifically planned - in fact, where we'd stay the final night was still up for discussion.   

We had about an hour from Rusty Spurr Ranch to Breckenridge and planned on getting dinner en route so we could check in to our hotel and rest after the long day.  What we didn't plan on was pulling over to see and take pictures of this massive marvel of creation at a bridge right before entering Silverthorne.  

Oh my GOODNESS...we'd officially won the animal sight-seeing BINGO!  A gigantic bull moose.

And finally, we pulled into the town where John and I honeymooned 17 years ago.  Our sweet Breckenridge....

This was the place where we actually had to pay for our lodging.  As the Marriotts were more vacation villas and already booked out, we went with our second best Hilton brand that we also earn points through.  DoubleTree Hilton in Breckenridge would be our home for the next two nights....and all that previous talk about the more upscale a hotel is, the less you get (and more you have to pay for)- well, it totally applied to this place.  You had to pay for parking, tip the Valet, tip the Bellhop, pay for WiFi - and of course, there was no complimentary breakfast.  You'd think, with all that, it would have offered us the coziest accommodations, but that wasn't even the case.  We were actually given one of the recently remodeled rooms.  It was indeed "roomy" - the better word would be huge....but because it was important to keep the sun out of the room as air conditioning wasn't part of the room offerings, it was very dark.  But, hey - two king beds and tons of space to dump our junk out everywhere, we were thankful.

This is a picture of a sample room on the hotel's website....

This is what it really looked like, with the picture taken from the window.

The swimming accommodations were pretty great though - obviously thought out to accommodate a community who's biggest revenues come in the winter time.  Three outdoor hot tubs adjacent to an indoor pool.  Perfectly ideal for our family - I'd sit in a tub and read while John would nap on a lounge chair and the kids would contentedly play in the pool on the other side of the glass.  This part got a thumbs up for sure.

So, no doubt about it, Wednesday took the award for best day of the week, while giving hope for more fun to come as we stayed in Breckenridge until Friday.

1 comment:

sara said...

what a fun day!!! Orange julius....I really miss those!!!

Me and horses just don't really get along well.....not a fan. just give me a Razor to ride!!! :)